Monday, February 28, 2011

Deal, Hunan governor mark SANY progress

Equipment manufacturer expects to create more than 200 jobs in Peachtree City

Gov. Nathan Deal today joined with Governor Qiang Zhou of China’s Hunan Province, SANY Group chairman Wengen Liang and other dignitaries to celebrate the first phase completion of SANY America’s North American assembly plant in Peachtree City. SANY America is a division of SANY Group Co. Ltd., which is headquartered in the Hunan Province of China and is the largest concrete-pumping equipment company in China. Deal was on hand to officially unveil a fully-assembled SANY Global Rough Terrain (RT) Crane, which is the machinery that will eventually be assembled at the SANY America Peachtree City plant.

“SANY America’s decision to locate in Georgia in 2007 is a great example of the steps we take to position our state as a strategic home for international companies seeking foreign direct investment opportunities in the United States,” said Deal. “We take great care in developing and fostering global relationships, and the result is mutually beneficial outcomes for both Georgia and international companies aiming to expand around the world. We are confident that our highly skilled workforce and unique global access will continue to help us attract competitive industries to Georgia.”

The SANY America Peachtree City location is one of only four investments the company has made outside of China. Other international locations include sites in Brazil, Germany and India. The end of phase one construction marks the completion of the company’s main infrastructure at its Peachtree City plant. The company currently has 108 employees and expects to at least double its workforce by the end of 2012. To date, SANY America has made a $60 million investment through the completion of phase one of the 420,000-square-foot facility.

“The completion of SANY America’s facility signifies a new milestone in SANY’s globalization initiative. This will bring SANY’s philosophy of Quality Changes for the World to the next level,” said Fugui Zhou, chairman of SANY America, Inc. “The new facility will enable the company to provide the North American market and the other global customers with superior products and services.”

The company’s Peachtree City facility will house sales, service, assembly, testing and distribution, as well as research and development operations in addition to serving as the corporate headquarters for SANY America, Inc. The plant will eventually assemble five different concrete manufacturing machines once fully operational.

"We appreciate the significant investment that SANY Corporation has made and will continue to make in Peachtree City and the state of Georgia," said Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix. "We look forward to working with SANY as a corporate partner as it grows and prospers in the international community that makes up our industrial park."

Georgia has a long history of doing business internationally and established an office in Beijing in 2008 to develop the relationships necessary to bring Chinese business to Georgia. China is Georgia’s second-largest export destination market, with nearly $2.4 billion in exports in 2010. Among Georgia’s top 10 export destinations, China ranked in the top three countries where Georgia saw the largest increase in exports, increasing by 35 percent since 2009. Georgia imports from China totaled $13.9 billion in 2010, which account for 32 percent of total Georgia imports. Over the last five years, exports from the Port of Savannah to China have grown 31 percent. In 2010, the Port of Savannah became the biggest port for exports to China and handled 47 percent of the total Mid- and South Atlantic trade with China.

“SANY America is the first and still remains the largest Chinese investment of its size in Georgia,” said Sam A. Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “SANY’s choice to build its North American headquarters and manufacturing center here demonstrates metro Atlanta’s attractiveness to international companies and Georgia’s commitment to strengthen our ties with China.”

In addition to a well-established trade relationship, Georgia also consistently works to foster a cultural and educational exchange with China. The state welcomes incoming delegations from China at least twice a month. And for the first time, in 2010 Georgia’s tourism division successfully launched in-language tourism products targeting the four top Chinese tour operators to promote Georgia tourism in China. Georgia’s academic institutions also have strong ties to China, including the Asia Council of the University System of Georgia and the Georgia Tech-Shanghai Initiative, which both promote study abroad and other educational exchange opportunities for students here and in China.

Stella Xu, Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) manager for China initiatives, assisted the company with this project.

Man Arrested in Connection with 5-Month Old's Death

On February 25, 2011 Fayette County Sheriff’s Investigator’s arrested Steven Anthony Haire, 22, of Franklin in connection with the death of Zachery Freeman, 5 months old, related to an incident that occurred at a residence on West Lane in north Fayette County. Fayette Investigator’s have charged Haire with Cruelty to Children in the First Degree where additional charges are expected.

On February 21, 2011 Fayette County Sheriff’s Deputies along with Fayette County EMS responded to a home on West Lane in reference to a 5 month old child who was not breathing. Haire told Fayette County Sheriff’s deputies that the child stopped breathing after he laid the child down with a bottle to take a nap.

Emergency workers who responded to the incident location performed CPR on the 5 month old who was then transported to Piedmont Fayette Hospital and later life flighted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Hospital. The five month old was placed on life support when he arrived at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. On February 25 the child was taken off of life support and died at 7:01 PM.

Fayette Investigator’s working with the doctor’s at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta determined that the child’s injuries were not consistent with the statements given by Haire at the time of the incident. Haire was later arrested in connection with the child’s death where he is currently in the Fayette County Jail.

It wasn't a bomb...

On February 26, 2011, at 11:47 AM officers responded to the parking lot of Braelinn Village Shopping Center in reference to a person receiving a chemical burn. Upon arrival, Peachtree City Fire Department and Police Department personnel discovered an unknown device that had exploded in the hand of the victim. Clayton County Police Department Bomb Squad responded to the scene to assist in the identification of the device. It was discovered that it was a survival type safety flare that was accidently ignited by the occupant of the vehicle. At no time was the public at risk. The bomb squad removed the device from the scene. The victim was treated and released for burns to the hand.

Friday’s Pre-K Lottery Drawing Postponed

The Fayette County Public School System has postponed its pre-K lottery drawing for students whose parents registered them for spaces in the 2011-2012 program, but registrations for the drawing are continuing through the published deadline of March 3 at 2 p.m.

The drawing, scheduled for March 4, has been cancelled due to possible changes to the pre-K program that have been proposed by Governor Nathan Deal. If the state legislature approves his recommendations, the pre-K school day will be reduced to a half-day program, down to four hours from six and a half hours a day.

Since a decision on the proposal has not been made, school officials decided to postpone the lottery drawing for pre-K slots until lawmakers reach a final consensus.

Parents who registered their children for the drawing will be notified of the postponement.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Everyday Heroes: School Social Workers Honored During National Recognition Week

School success is not all about academics. Social, emotional and economic factors play a part, sometimes creating obstacles that stand in the way. Helping students and families navigate their way through these non-academic obstacles are school social workers.

Fayette County Public Schools has three social workers, Kim Bryan, Michelle Martin and Eulene Paulk. Their responsibility is a much about working with the student as it is about working with their families. During the 2009-2010 school year, they assisted 643 families with social, emotional, economic, mental health, medical, and school attendance improvement needs.

March 6-12 is National School Social Work Week. This year’s theme, “Social Workers Change Futures,” celebrates the many ways school social workers make a difference in the lives of students every day.

“Our social workers work tirelessly making a difference in the lives of our families in Fayette County. They are greatly appreciated for all their hard work,” says Barbara Serapion, director of Pupil Personnel Services for Fayette County Public Schools.

School social workers serve as link between the school, community and home by:

* Assisting with the enforcement of the Georgia Compulsory School Attendance Law by assessing barriers to school attendance
* Providing referral information to facilitate family and student use of community-based resources for social, emotional, economic, and medical needs
* Providing assessment and referral services for displaced students and families
* Conducting home visits to assess environmental factors that inhibit learning and impede the social/emotional well-being of students
* Promoting parental responsibility
* Helping parents to better understand and meet the social, developmental and emotional needs of their children
* Reporting concerns of child abuse and neglect
* Collaborating with community resources to meet the needs of at risk students and families

School social workers have an impact on children that extends long after the final school bell rings. Fayette County Public Schools asks the community to remember to thank Fayette’s school social workers March 6-12 for their dedication to students and families in the county.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Students Juggle Technology at Bennett’s Mill Middle School

Master juggler Chris Cassidy (center), along with Demi Tega (left) and Brian Doyle, give a celebratory performance for the successful completion of a 10-foot bridge in the background.

How is juggling connected to technology? Well, there is no connection, but juggling teaches eye/hand coordination and self-confidence, traits that might prove useful in building something like a bridge.

Seventh grader Chris Cassidy teaches a five-minute juggling course to fellow students during their technology period at Bennett’s Mill Middle. About six to eight students participate in the juggling lessons each week, says technology teacher Jim Uttley.

A recent accomplishment by fellow student Andrew Hogan prompted a celebration from the jugglers. Andrew built a bridge out of K’Nex building materials that spanned 10 feet with a 6-foot clearance. It was part of his construction project in Uttley’s technology class. It took three days to complete.
Technology students at Bennett’s Mill learn about a number of possible career tracks including music production, car design, computer aided design and manufacturing, video game design, graphics and animation, web page design, aerodynamics, flight simulation, construction, robotics, and video production.

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Fayette County Schools Counselors Raise Awareness for Guidance and Counseling

FSCA's Executive Board Members pictured from right to left: Angela Miller (Public Relations/Historian and National School Counselor's Week Chair), Tama Matthews (treasurer), Kelly Hubbard (secretary), LeeAnn Belknap(President-Elect), Kristin Cristelli (Middle School Setting Vice-President), Heather Sherwood (Elementary Setting Vice-President), Linda Williams(Immediate Past President), Kaye Eubank (President), Debbie Crisp (Chairperson of the Hospitality Committee) and Sandy Perrin(High School Setting Vice-President).

School Counselors in the Fayette County School System are active members of the Fayette School Counselor Association (FSCA) which serves to advance the profession of school counseling and also provides opportunities for professional development.

The organization promotes an improved understanding and appreciation of guidance and counseling services in the school setting. In addition, the FSCA recognizes the need to enhance a spirit of unity, cooperation, suppport and fellowship among counselors and the community.

It is important to raise the awareness of the community at large about the important role of the school counselor in the multi-diciplinary approach used to support the healthy person, social and academic growth of our students.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Burglar nabbed...

On February 24, 2011 at approximately 4:45 AM, residents of 305 Pinemount Drive, Peachtree City, Ga were woken to unusual noises coming from their basement. The resident told Communications Officers that when the light was turned on in the bedroom, the noises in the basement stopped.

Officers responded to the home in just under 2 minutes from the time the call was dispatched. The home was cleared to ensure that no subjects were located in the residence and the homeowners were safe. A perimeter around the area was established, and an on-duty Fayette County Sheriff’s Office K9 Officer responded to the location to assist in tracking the offender.

While searching the area, Officers located a subject who was standing on Pinemount Drive. JONES, MARLON D., 22, of Yates Rd., College Park, Ga., was taken into custody and questioned. JONES admitted to entering the home, which he believed to be vacant. While in the home, he took an X-Box, a computer, a laser pointer, and liquor. With the exception of the laser pointer that was in JONES’ possession, all stolen items were located under a tree by Officers who were searching the area.

JONES is currently located at the Fayette County Jail. Warrants for JONES are currently pending for LOITERING AND PROWLING AND BURGLARY.

If anyone has information that would assist the Police Department in this or any other incidents, please contact the Criminal Investigations Division at 770-631-2510 or the Crime and Narcotics Information Hotline, (770) 487-6010. You may remain anonymous.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Near Sweep By Middle Schools at Academic Bowl

Fayette’s middle schools dominated the Regional Academic Bowl at Griffin RESA, only missing a third place victory for a complete sweep.

Rising Starr and Flat Rock took first and second place, respectively. Fayette Middle secured fourth place. The contest included schools from Butts, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Newton, Pike, Spalding, and Upson counties.

This year has been extremely successful for Fayette Middle; the school was also the Region 6 co-winner of the PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.

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HS Academic Teams Triumph at Regional and State Tourneys

Fayette’s academic teams put their marks on the RESA Regional and State Academic bowls.

An allusive third place victory was all that kept the county’s varsity and junior varsity teams from sweeping the entire regional meet at Griffin RESA. Varsity winners were McIntosh High, first place; Starr’s Mill High (Team A), second place; and Starr’s Mill High (Team B), fourth place. At the JV level, Starr’s Mill took first, McIntosh second, and Whitewater High fourth.

All of the teams qualified to advance to the state competition in Flowery Branch February 12. This time Starr’s Mill (Team A) beat McIntosh in the semi-final round and came back to overtake Flowery Branch High in the finals, clinching the state title.

“The kids are pretty excited about being state champs,” says academic team coach Nancy Close.
McIntosh finished in third place.

Whitewater High’s JV team made it to the quarterfinals before losing to Calhoun High, a team they had beaten earlier.

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2011 Boy Scout Golden Eagle Dinner to Honor Dan Cathy

Community leaders and members of the Fayette business community will gather at the 2011 Fayette County Boy Scout Golden Eagle Dinner. The 2nd annual dinner is a fundraiser for the Flint River Council. Funds raised support the local scouting program and help keep the costs of scouting down for the local boys who participate in scouting. Last year’s dinner raised $67, 642, and organizers are hoping to top that number this year. The Flint River Council, Boy Scouts of America, has served Fayette County since 1927, shaping the lives of young people by fostering the development of a strong values-centered life and training the leaders of tomorrow through a partnership with families and communities.

The 2011 Fayette County Boy Scout Golden Eagle Dinner will be held Thursday, March 24th at Glendalough Manor in Tyrone. This year’s dinner will honor Dan Cathy, COO and President of Chick-fil-A, Inc, Mr. Cathy will be recognized for exemplifying the Boy Scout law and oath in his life, through his work in the community and his support of scouting. Former Mayor of Peachtree City, Harold Logsdon is serving as the Golden Eagle Honorary Chairperson. The evening will begin with fellowship at 6:00 P.M. followed by dinner and a program at 6:45 P.M. There is no ticket cost to attend the event. However, attendees will be asked to pledge financial support to the Fayette County Scouting programs. Reservations may be made by contacting Peggy Murphy, Senior District Executive at 678-603-8445 or via email at

Friday, February 18, 2011

Traffic delays and single lane closing. Hwy 74 at Aberdeen on Mon 2/21/11 from 8-10am.

On Monday, February 21, 2011 from 8:00 am until approximately 10:00 am, the Peachtree City Police Department will have one southbound lane of Highway 74 at Aberdeen Parkway shut down. Additionally, there may be times that traffic is slowed and briefly halted in the open lane. During this time, the Department’s Community Response Team will be conducting a follow-up investigation into the multi-vehicle, fatal collision that occurred on February 9th, 2011. The Department would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding when experiencing slight delays in this area.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fayette County Parks and Recreation Courses

The Fayette County Parks and Recreation Department offers registration at the Activities House, 980 Redwine Road, Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. The brochure can be obtained at the offices of the Fayette County Parks and Recreation Department, Administration Complex, Library, and school offices. To download brochures from the web site go to Early registration is encouraged as these programs fill up fast and transportation is limited on the adult trips.

COURSE CODES NEW 2011!       New this year is course codes that have been assigned to each program.  Please use the code that corresponds with the title of the program when you register online, by phone, by mail, or when you walk-in.  Tree climbing, table tennis, massages, and archery still required everyone to register by mail or walk-in.

 “RANGERS IN ACTION”                                                                                                Course # W11073
Travel with us to Columbus and watch rangers detonate explosives, jump from helicopters into the water, rappel up and down towers, race down zip lines, and participate in hand-to-hand combat. Then we are off to the National         Infantry Museum and the Fife and Drum for lunch.

Day:        Friday                                      
Date:      March 4
Time:      8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Fee:      $20 per person
Age:     Adults
Location:  Columbus

TURNER FIELD                                                                                                                     Course # W11075
The home of the Atlanta Braves tour will include the Ivan Allen Museum, Scout’s Alley, batting cages, and a                  restaurant. It also includes the dugout, locker room, and press boxes.

Day:                Wednesday         
Date:      April 6                    
Time:      10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Fee:        $15 per person
Age:        Adult
Location: Atlanta

ARCHERY                                                                                                                                                 This program is offered through the NAA (National Archery Association) to promote the sport of archery. Our program offers basic instructions, recreation and tournament level training, and a safe environment to learn the sport of archery.  
Day:            Sundays                                                                                                                                    Date:            Beginning in January                                                                                                    Time:    6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.                                                                                                                     Fee:      $5 per person shooting time only                                                                                                                 $40 beginner course                                                                                                              Age:     8 - 15 years old                                                                                                                Location:  Kiwanis Center

*Prerequisite for beginners - A basic program of instruction and guidance to teach the basic skills of archery while ensuring safety and encouraging a fun time. Basic instruction and equipment included!
The AARP Driver Safety Program is the nation’s first and largest refresher course for experienced drivers. This course has helped millions of drivers remain safe on roads.

This course teaches current rules of the road, how to operate motor vehicles safely in today’s increasingly challenging driving environment, and some adjustment to age-related changes in vision, hearing, and reaction time.

Geared for experienced drivers, this course is open to drivers of all ages.

Day:                 Monday & Tuesday
Date:                Course #  W11105:                   March 14 & 15
Time:                9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Fee:                  $12 per person AARP member
                        $14 per person NON-AARP member
Location:             Activities House

Participants may be eligible to receive insurance discount upon completion of the course.
Consult your agent for details!

Learn to climb trees the safe way with the use of harnesses, ropes, and helmets. Participants young and old climb for fun, learn to tree swing, and climb for a good challenge.

Second and Fourth Sunday of each month
2 – 5 year old
$15 per person
8 & older
Lake Horton

Participants should register prior to each class at the Activities House, 980 Redwine Road. For more information on private or group climbs call 770.599.3567 or email
Gate fees required for all out-of-county residents.

Line dancing builds and promotes cardiovascular health through physical workouts of varying intensity. A foundation for dance experience that enables you to have balance, rhythm, timing, and better posture.
Day:     Monday
Date:    Course #  W11133:            March 7 – 28
Time:    6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.            Beginner
            7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.            Intermediate
Fee:      $25 per person
Age:     Adult
Location: Kiwanis Center

This workshop if for those of you that want to learn/review the basic steps of line dancing. We will review the latest dance steps and incorporating them into the latest beginner dances.
Day:            Saturdays
Dates:   Course #  W11135:                   March 19
Time:    10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Fee:      $10 per person
Age:     Adult
Location: Kiwanis Center

Join us for a fun and energetic way to exercise and learn how to line dance as well. You will learn the basic steps that can be incorporated into the songs of yesteryear and the latest hits of today!
Day:            Tuesday
Date:    Course #  W11140:                   March 8 – 29
Time:    11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Fee:      $25 per person
Age:     Adult
Location: Kiwanis Center

This is a non-stop dancing event. We will begin with the workshop and improve our dancing skills. Then we are off for dinner at a local restaurant in Fayetteville. If you have registered for both sessions, you will return for the evening open dance session of more dancing.
Day:            Saturdays
Dates:   Course #  W11143:                   March 19
Fee:      $10 per person             Workshop         1:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
            $5 per person  Open dance               8:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Age:     Adult
Location: Kiwanis Center

Participants may register for each workshop, open dance class, or both.
*Please note the January 15th workshop only will be from 4:45 p.m. - 7:45 p.m.


Flash and dASH SCAVENGER hunt                                             Course # W11146    
Will begin at the Activities House where you and your team can participate in a local experience that is as much adventure race as it is scavenger hunt. Similar to The Amazing Race, but on a local level, anyone can participate! This experience consists of teams of two that will solve clues, travel to local points of interest, and complete fun challenges while discovering Fayette County in a whole new way.
Day:     Monday
Date:    April 4
Time:    11:00 a.m.
Fee:      $20 per person includes a t-shirt
Age:     18 & older
Location:  Kiwanis Center

We are going back Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for our annual spring trip.  Enjoy a city tour, shows, fun, and great food along the coast.

April 25 – 27
$455 per person based on double occupancy

Deadline for registration is February 25

Peaches to Beaches
This gigantic yard sale links peach growing counties in Middle Georgia. The annual Peaches to the Beaches Yard Sale is about 220 miles long featuring vendors selling everything from antiques, to local items and yard sale stuff. Yard sale sites will range from large multi-organization sites to individual sites along US Highway 341. We begin early and travel as far as we can during a 7 hour time frame.

Day:     Friday
Date:    March 11
Time:    7:30 a.m.
Fee:      $10 per person
Age:     Adult
Location: Hwy 341

Tax Man Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre

Join us on tax day for a Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre. The night begins with a   murder only to climax with clues for us to solve. A wonderful dinner buffet will be provided with an evening we won’t forget.
Friday, April 15
$49 per person
6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Clayton State University

Early registration is a must as only 30 spaces are available. A minimum of 12 are required for this trip to make.
Course Code: W11181

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Tyrone PD seeks public assistance to reduce crime on the south side of town.


We have had several incidents of commercial burglary, theft, and property damage on the south side of Town over the past year, so I wanted to take a moment to remind all of our citizens to please call us if you see something suspicious in your travels in this area or in your neighborhood. The specific area that I am talking about is along a stretch of Senoia Road from Dogwood Trail to the south Town Limits and inside Shamrock Industrial Park.

A detailed, interactive map of the area showing the reported incidents is available at the following link: (if that link doesn't work, please try:

As hard as we might try, we cannot be everywhere at once, so we are asking the public to call 911 or 770-461-HELP (4357) anytime you see something suspicious while you're out and about anywhere in the Town. We've cleared several incidents in the past based on information from citizens reporting things that "just didn't look right", so please don't hesitate to call no matter how insignificant something might seem.

We are increasing patrols and traffic enforcement in this area at this time. This activity, along with the vigilant eyes and ears of our citizens and business owners will go a long way towards decreasing these incidents.


Chief Brandon Perkins

Achieve the Georgia Work Ready Certification, Get Free Gas!

Georgia Work Ready Incentive Award
Fayette County Residents Only

NOTE: The Fayette County Incentive Process begins February 1, 2011 & continues while funding is available.
General Public: Must be a Fayette County Resident.

Any Fayette County Adult Resident who is not a high school student and achieves the Georgia Work Ready Certification is eligible for a one time* Fayette County Incentive in the form of gas cards as described below. This incentive process begins February 1, 2011 and will continue while funding is available. Thus, it may stop without notice. Supplies are limited. Register today.

*One time means the first time the individual takes the assessment and achieves a certificate.

(1) Take the Georgia Work Ready Assessment through Southern Crescent Technical College.
(2) Achieve score at one of the certificate levels (bronze, silver, gold, or platinum).
(3) The appropriate gift card(s) will be distributed after the assessment scores and incentive level are verified.

Recipients must provide name, address, social security number, and signature.

Register to take the Georgia Work Ready assessment TODAY!
--OR-- Call 770-228-7364 (Southern Crescent Tech)

Ronald McDonald gets a little help from Fayetteville Cops

The Fayetteville Police Department will be serving as a drop-off point for aluminum can tabs which will be turned over to the Ronald McDonald House to benefit their charity.

The mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charities is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well being of children. The Ronald McDonald House charities also operate temporary homes for families of children who are critically ill.

The Fayetteville Police Department is conducting this charitable operation in memory of Ava Scruggs-Roberson the infant grandchild of Donna Phillips, the Administrative Assistant to the Chief of the Fayetteville Police Department. Ava passed away February 18, 2009 at 8 days old. Phillips stated the Ronald McDonald House was an incredible blessing to their family during Ava’s illness.

Anyone wishing to contribute is encouraged to drop off their aluminum can tabs (tabs only) at the collection box which is located in the lobby of the Fayetteville Police Department.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Speed Networking at the Chamber

Start building new business relationships! The Fayette Chamber has a great opportunity for those business representatives who want to expand their network. Join us at the Fayette Chamber’s next Speed Networking session on Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 a.m., 200 Courthouse Square, Fayetteville, GA.

Each person in a pair is allowed a minute to talk – then the bell rings and individuals on one side of the table shift down a seat to meet someone new. Be prompt and prepared to learn “who they are” and “what they do” in a fast pace, facilitated session. Business cards are required.

The sessions are free of charge, but registration is required. Visit to register through the Chamber’s event calendar by Monday, February 21st. For more information, contact the Fayette Chamber at (770) 461-9983. Open to Chamber members and non-members.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Avenue Peachtree City Supports CARE

Eyeglasses, after school tuition, clothes, school supplies, hearing aid batteries, these are some basic needs that donations from the community and The Avenue in Peachtree City are helping fulfill for Fayette’s public school students through the CARE (Children at Risk in Education) program.

The Avenue hosts free community events throughout the year where families can gather, have fun, and make an optional donation to support CARE. During the holiday season, the shopping center offered free carriage rides and photos with Santa, many patrons took the opportunity to give to CARE.

A check totaling over $1,500 was recently presented to CARE Coordinator Karen Spangler that included the community donations as well as a $1,000 contribution from The Avenue Peachtree City.

“We and our families appreciate all that this community and The Avenue does to support our students. Meeting basic needs is essential to a student’s academic success. In this economy, we have a number of families who are barely getting by. We want to help them as much as we can; donations like this enables us to stretch our reach,” says Spangler.

For more information about CARE, contact Spangler at 770-460-3990. To learn more about upcoming events at The Avenue Peachtree City, visit

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Peachtree City welcomes Joey Grisham as City’s new Economic Development Coordinator

Although Joey Grisham had a wintery welcome his first month on the job as Peachtree City’s first full-time Economic Development Coordinator, he has hit the ground running since relocating to Peachtree City from Texas in January.

Grisham has nearly a decade of experience in economic development and retail consulting, successfully leading local economic development agencies in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. He is one of fewer than 300 individuals in the country to possess a Master’s Degree in Economic Development.

Grisham comes to Peachtree City from Keller, Texas, which was named as the 7th Best Place to Live by MONEY Magazine (just ahead of Peachtree City’s #8 slot). He also worked in Granbury, Texas, which was named one of the Top Places to Retire.

As a retail market consultant, Grisham has been involved in projects in six states, performing market assessments, retail leakage/surplus analyses, demographic/psychographic profiling, and making community/economic development recommendations. Over the years, he has developed a large network of contacts with realtors, developers, site location consultants, retailers, and corporations that will be of benefit to Peachtree City.

Joey has set an impressive list of goals for his first year with Peachtree City. He said, “First, I look forward to working closely with local businesses to help market shopping centers and reduce retail leakage, along with getting to know our existing industries and identifying any possible expansion plans and how the City might be able to assist.”

He is developing a long-range Economic Development Strategic Plan as he works with the Development Authority of Peachtree City and the Fayette County Development Authority to enhance the business climate.

Another priority of Grisham’s is to develop professional marketing materials and update Peachtree City’s website to include more economic development information for recruiting new businesses to the community.

Finally, he will be providing monthly economic development updates in Peachtree City’s weekly email newsletter, Peachtree City UPDATES. Residents can subscribe to this publication at

As a first step toward meeting these goals, Grisham will present a proposed budget for the new Economic Development Department to the Mayor and City Council for discussion and on Thursday, February 17. Council approved the City’s first full-time Economic Development Coordinator position as part of the FY 2011 budget. Grisham’s proposal will be available Friday, February 11, on the City’s web site as part of the Council Meeting Packet at

Peachtree City’s Interim City Manager, Nikki Vrana, said, “We welcome Joey to Peachtree City. His background and professional experience make him a perfect fit for our community, and we look forward to his bringing a much greater focus on economic development in the coming year.” Grisham holds degrees from the University of Mississippi, University of Memphis, and University of Southern Mississippi. He and his wife, Shandy Long, have two children.

Fayette Continues Rein at Regional Math Tourney

Middle school math teams placed first in every division, and students swept the overall individual winners category in the Griffin RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) 2011 Middle School Math Contest.

First place winners were Bennett’s Mill (Division I), Fayette Middle (Division II), and J.C. Booth (Division III).

Additionally, Rising Starr took second place in Division III.

Overall individual winners were Nathan Hung (first place), J.C. Booth; Seth Triplett (second place), J.C. Booth; and Nicholas Powell (third place), Bennett’s Mill.

Over 24 middle schools participated in this year’s contest, setting a new record. The regional competition included schools from Butts, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Newton, Pike, Spalding, and Upson counties.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Skills Tested in Regional Vo-Tech Competition

Months of practice and preparation paid off for students at Sandy Creek High as they wowed judges at the annual 2011 Georgia SkillsUSA Region 5 Competition at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon on February 4.

The students participated in 12 competitions and medaled in 10, bringing home six first place wins, three second, and one third. They competed in professions ranging from automotive refinishing technology, power equipment technology, and automotive service technology to preschool teaching assistant, graphic communications, extemporaneous speaking, advertising design, job skill demonstration, job interview, and graphic communications.

First and second place winners advance to the state competition March 17-19 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta. Winning state contestants go to the national contest June 19-25 in Kansas City, Mo.

Students receiving medals in the 2011 region 5 competition:

(First Place) Steven Banks, automotive refinishing technology; Rachel Barnes, preschool teaching assistant; Gavin Baswell, job skills demonstration open; Jason Fore, automotive service technology; Marissa Shenkle, extemporaneous speaking; and Chanelle Smith-Walker, advertising design.

(Second Place) Robbie Chontos, graphic communications; Addie Davis, job interview; and Alex Lynch, job skill demonstration A.

(Third Place) Chase Hearn, power equipment technology.

Additional competitors were Galwyn Hill, prepared speech; and the school’s SkillsUSA chapter quiz bowl team members Rachel Barber (team captain), Breah Carmichael, Kevaughn Charles, Andrew Kampras, Bria Forte, Alyssa Pointer, and Laura Llorens.

“Our chapter had great success at the competition. All of our students did a great job and I want to congratulate each one; I’m extremely proud,” says Jeff Dykes, the school’s graphic communications teacher and SkillsUSA advisor.

Addie Davis, chapter president and SkillsUSA state treasurer, pulled double duty at the competition. In addition to competing and securing a second place win in the job interview category, she also delivered the welcome to approximately 300 competitors and advisors and emceed the awards ceremony.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

All of Fayette’s High Schools Make State’s AP Honor List

All five of Fayette’s public high schools made Georgia’s 2011 list of AP (Advanced Placement) Honor Schools, with the majority earning recognition in multiple categories based on the results of AP exams.

AP classes offer rigorous college-level learning options to students in high school. Students who receive a 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams may receive college credit. AP classes and exams are administered by the College Board, which also administers the SAT.

Both Fayette County and Sandy Creek High schools placed in the AP Access and Support Schools category: schools with 30 percent of AP test takers that are African-American or Hispanic, and at least 30 percent of all AP exams scoring 3 or higher.

Starr’s Mill High is listed as an AP Merit School: schools with at least 20 percent of students taking AP exams, and at least half of the AP exams scoring a 3 or higher.

McIntosh High, Sandy Creek High, Starr’s Mill High and Whitewater High schools made the list for AP STEM Schools: schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses (AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Statistics, AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP Environmental Science, AP Physics B, AP Physics C, AP Computer Science).

McIntosh High, Sandy Creek High, Starr’s Mill High and Whitewater High schools also are listed in the AP STEM Achievement Schools category: schools with students testing in at least two AP math courses and two AP science courses, and at least 40 percent of the exam scores on AP math and AP science exams scoring a 3 or higher.

More than 350 high schools throughout the state were named AP Honor Schools.

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Fayette Students Nominated for Governor’s Honors

A total of 54 students from Fayette’s five high schools were selected for statewide interviews for the 2011 Governor’s Honors Program.

Results of the interviews will determine the finalists who will participate in the four-week program this summer on the campus of Valdosta State University. Students interviewed in the following disciplines: communicative arts, mathematics, biology, physics, social studies, Spanish, French, German, dance, theatre, visual arts, music/voice, music/brass, music/strings, music/woodwinds, executive management, and technology.

The Governor’s Honors Program provides intellectually gifted and artistically talented high school students challenging and enriching educational opportunities not usually available during the regular school year. Activities give participants opportunities to acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to become independent, life-long learners.

The selection process is lengthy and begins in the fall when teachers from each high school nominate students for outstanding performance in particular areas of study. The nominated students advance to county-level interviews where those for state consideration are selected.

Statewide interviews are now complete; students who are chosen to participate in the program will be announced on March 25.

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Wal-Mart Shooter Surrenders

The third suspect wanted in connection with the Armed Robbery at the Fayetteville Wal-Mart is in the Fayette County Jail.

Brandon Thomas Mann, 18, of Fairburn turned himself in to the Fayetteville Police just before noon February 9, accompanied by his attorney.

Mann had been wanted since February 4, 2011, when Fayetteville detectives had obtained arrest warrants for him. During the investigation, Fayetteville Police obtained evidence pointing to Mann as the shooter in the September 17, 2010, robbery.

Mann was taken into custody at the Fayetteville Police Department without incident. Fayetteville Detective Scott Israel gave praise to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the Clayton County Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department and the Fairburn Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Fayette Senior Services Presents Rhapsody in Blues

A glamorous night of fabulous food and incredible music is planned for Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center’s 3rd annual signature event to benefit Meals On Wheels, transportation, and other life enriching services to help Fayette’s seniors live well and age well. “Rhapsody in Blues” – an evening of Blue Denim, Blue Diamonds, & the Blues – will be Saturday, March 12, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m., concert at 7:30 p.m. In concert will be Eden Brent ( performing torchy blues and sophisticated jazz and everything that lies in between.

Eden Brent’s piano playing and singing style ranges from a melancholic whisper to a full-blown juke joint holler. She ably blends an earthy meld of jazz, blues, soul, and pop as she huskily invites listeners into her lazy, lush world. Brent’s performances are fresh and spontaneous, often filled with audience requests and participation.

Much more than the blues flows through Brent’s talented hands: Critics laud her “Bessie Smith meets Diana Krall meets Janis Joplin” attitude, compare her to jazz/pop dynamos Norah Jones and Sarah Vaughn, and wax effusively about her “whiskey-smoke” voice.

Her unshakable talent and her carefree demeanor have taken her across the country and around the world, with appearances at the Kennedy Center, the 2000 Republican National Convention, the venerable Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and tours of South Africa and Norway under her belt.

With the 2008 release of her album Mississippi Number One, Brent has taken her place as one of the fresh voices propelling this vital American music forward. As Chip Eagle, publisher of Blues Revue, BluesWax, and Dirty Linen says, “in Eden’s huge playing and singing you can hear the ghosts of Mississippi in duet with the future of the blues.”

This unique “fun”-raising evening will include glittering door prizes, a dazzling raffle, and shopping for “bling” at the Blue Diamond Boutique.

The doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for guests to mingle with friends while enjoying a sumptuous buffet prepared by Fayette Senior Services’ executive chef, Donnie Wuerl and Mary Jane Hollister of Something Delightful Bakery Cafe. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Food and beverages from the “Blue Denim Lounge,” will be available throughout the evening. Guests can enjoy the evening in the comfort of their best denim paired with dressy attire.

Tickets for this event are $85 per person (general seating). Reserved table seating is available for $100 per person. Seats are limited. Tickets are available at Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center, 4 Center Drive, Fayetteville; Heritage Bank, 440 N. Jeff Davis Dr., Fayetteville; The Bank of Georgia, 100 Westpark Drive, Peachtree City; Bank of North Georgia, 602 Dogwood Trail, Tyrone. Or purchase tickets by phone, 770-461-0813.For more than 30 years, Fayette Senior Services, Inc. (FSS), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, has been making a meaningful difference in the emotional, social, and physical well-being of older adults; preserving their independence, improving their quality of life, and connecting them to the community. For active older adults age 50+ Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center offers a wide variety of social, leisure, fitness and recreational activities, the award-winning Ultimate Café, and more. For more information about Fayette Senior Services visit

Wal-Mart Shooter surrenders

The third suspect wanted in connection with the Armed Robbery at the Fayetteville Wal-Mart is in the Fayette County Jail. Brandon Thomas Mann, 18, of Fairburn turned himself in to the Fayetteville Police just before noon today, accompanied by his attorney. Mann had been wanted since February 4, 2011 when Fayetteville detectives had obtained arrest warrants for him. During the investigation, Fayetteville Police obtained evidence pointing to Mann as the shooter in the September 17, 2010 Robbery. Mann was taken into custody at the Fayetteville Police Department without incident. Fayetteville Detective Scott Israel gave praise to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the Clayton County Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department and the Fairburn Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

Students Showcase Literacy Skills at Regional Festival

Elementary and middle school poetry recitation and ready writing competitors collectively earned seven awards in the 2011 Regional Literacy Days Festival.

The annual festival was held February 2-3 in Griffin, Ga. hosted by Griffin RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency). Students from school systems in Butts, Fayette, Henry, Lamar, Newton, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties competed in three areas: Poetry Recitation, Ready Writing and Drama.

Fayette’s poetry recitation competitors came just one grade level short of receiving a placement in each grade. (Third Grade) Olivia Wernecke, second place, Braelinn Elementary; (Fourth Grade) Barrett Hester, first place, Braelinn Elementary; (Sixth Grade) Aubrey Bennett, second place, Rising Starr Middle; (Seventh Grade) Simone Jones, third place, Fayette Middle; and (Eighth Grade) Ellie Klarl, first place, Flat Rock Middle.

Two students from Rising Starr Middle placed in the Ready Writing portion of the competition. (Sixth Grade) Ethan Roland, third place; (Eighth Grade) Emma Wernecke, first place.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

“RAMP” Counseling Programs at North Fayette and Burch Elementary

The school counseling programs at North Fayette and Robert J. Burch Elementary schools are “ramped” up just in time for National School Counseling Week February 7-11.

Both schools have been notified that they have received the Recognized American School Counselor Association Model Program (RAMP) designation, certifying thattheir school counseling programs exemplify the characteristics that facilitate student success.

The RAMP designation, awarded to schools that align with the criteria set in the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model, recognizes schools that are committed to delivering a comprehensive, data-driven school counseling program and an exemplary educational environment.
More than 350 schools nationwide have received the designation since the program’s inception.

The application process is involved and takes a significant amount of time to complete being that it must cover an entire school year. RAMP applications are reviewed once a year by a panel of school counseling professionals.

The designation is valid for three years. At the end of three years, schools can apply again to continue to be designated a RAMP school.

North Fayette and Robert J. Burch will receive a plaque of recognition during a special ceremony at the ASCA annual conference in Seattle, Washington on June 27.

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

DECA Students Dominate at Regional Competition

Whitewater High’s DECA club members show no sign of losing steam as they continue to mount awards, most recently upstaging their competitors at the DECA Regional Competition on January 27 at the Rockdale Career Academy.

The club took home the most awards with 23 out of the 35 members placing in the top four and advancing to the state competition February 24-26 in Atlanta.

Students going to the state tournament include:

(First Place) Lena Alston, Olivia Bankston, Katie Cassidy, Josh Deas, Jordan Garrett, Erin Mahlbacher, Kayla Maxwell, and RoShonda Welch.

(Second Place) Ryan Gray, Theresa Lasal, Megan McDowell, Alex Resnak, Danielle Ruttinger, Mikayla Stewart and, Tanner Sweatman.

(Third Place) Taylor Birkhead, Carolyn Dishburger, Austen Hammond, Case Jackson, Emily Layland and, J'Lynn Lewis.

(Fourth Place) Lauren Morrison and Melody Ognio.

DECA is an organization that aims to prepare students for careers in marketing, management, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

To advance in the competition, students must demonstrate their knowledge and business savvy in a particular industry or trade, for example, tourism or sports marketing, management or finance.

Each event includes a written test portion and one or two role-playing scenarios. In the role-playing scenarios, students take on the type of challenges they might face in their chosen industries.

Students have only 10 minutes to read their scenario and take notes before they must give a 10-minute presentation and answer questions from the judge. They are scored based on how well they cover key points and the overall polish of their presentation.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Two Fayetteville Armed Robbery Suspects Caught , One Still at Large

The Fayetteville Police Department arrested two suspects connected to a September 17, 2010 Armed Robbery of a man and his wife in the parking lot of the Fayetteville Wal-Mart. Antonio Jamal Blakely, 25, of Riverdale and William Anthony Manuel, 20, of Fairburn are in the Fayette County jail charged with Aggravated Assault, Armed Robbery and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Brandon Thomas Mann, 18, of Fairburn is wanted on Aggravated Assault, Armed Robbery and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony charges.

The incident occurred in the early morning hours when the victims were approached, while walking to their vehicle, by a suspect pointing a pistol at the torso of the male victim. The suspect demanded the victim’s wallet and the victim’s wife’s purse. The victim refused and two shots were fired as the victims ran from the area. The suspects fled the Wal-Mart in a red Chevrolet Tahoe.

Investigation by the Fayetteville Police Criminal Investigations Division led them to Blakely’s residence in Riverdale, where Fayetteville Detectives and Clayton County Police served a search warrant on Thursday, February 3, 2011 and located the Tahoe hidden in the garage. Detectives also uncovered additional evidence which led them to Manuel and Mann.

Fayetteville Police are asking for information regarding Mann’s whereabouts. Mann is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about Mann is encouraged to contact Detective Scott Israel at (770) 719-4223 or Detective Mike Whitlow at (770) 719-4222.

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After a Decade of Service as Public School Mentor, Camper Still Going Strong

At 7:30 a.m. Bill Camper is at Peachtree City Elementary mentoring a student from Betty Stricklen’s first grade classroom. Before classes begin, Camper and his mentee go over what was taught the day before so the student is on task with the rest of his classmates. Camper stays with his mentee for the Pledge of Allegiance and Moment of Silence, standing tall, hand over his heart. He will be back three more times before the week is done. This has been Camper’s ritual since 2000, and he has no plans of stopping any time soon.

“I have survived all these years for some reason. I keep trying to find out what it is,” he says jokingly.
With 10 years of service under his belt, Camper is the longest running volunteer mentor in the Friends Mentoring Program of the Fayette County Public School System. He is one of over 100 adults and teens who volunteer as mentors for students at all levels in the school system.

“My involvement as a tutor has kept me informed of changes in our education system. It allows me to maintain contact with my children and grandchildren’s generations,” he says.

During his tenure, Camper has worked with 13 students from Peachtree City Elementary, providing an hour a week of instruction for students who need extra academic help. He keeps in close contact with his students’ teacher so that he can help reinforce the material that is being taught in class. He prefers working with his mentees before school so that the two of them can go over what was covered the day before.

“My strategy is to help the student start the day at the same level as the rest of the class,” Camper says.
A son of an immigrant family from Costa Rica, Camper is fluent in Spanish, and has helped ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) students learn English in addition to working with regular education students. He currently is working with two first graders from Betty Sticklen’s class. He has worked with Stricklen’s students the entire time he has been a mentor.

“I love this man, and have such great respect for what he has done for my students and our community. He works with students who are having academic difficulties, but he teaches them so much more than just academics,” says Stricklen.

Camper served 31 years in the United States Army, retiring as a Lt. Colonel. He models respect and self-discipline, and expects the same from his mentees. He requires feet on the floor, stresses no hats indoors, and compliments a neat appearance.

“Students can do things differently at home, but these are the expectations I have for them at school,” he says.

While enlisted in the Army, he spent 12 years attending college at night to earn a degree in education and social studies. After retiring, he decided he preferred working outdoors; he started a landscape design and construction business that he ran for 20 years. Now, he has come full circle, putting his life experiences and formal education to good use by helping students in the community.

“I have an opportunity to reinforce with students the best of American culture and values, and observe the best that our educators are contributing to our country’s future,” he says.

The Friends Mentoring Program needs additional mentors of all ages and backgrounds to help and befriend students who are struggling academically or just need someone to be there for them. Mentors commit to working with their student one hour per week during the school year. Mentors must go through a background check and complete a training program before being assigned a mentee. Interested persons should contact Jane Gough of the Friends Mentoring Program, 770-460-3990, ext. 255.

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Selection of Fayette’s Top Teacher Underway

Two science teachers and a math teacher round out this year’s finalists for Fayette County Teacher of the Year.

None of them envisioned teaching as a career; instead they wanted fame and fortune until a miraculous realization about themselves changed their lives forever. Read their stories and you will know why they have been selected as “the best of the best.”

On his way to becoming a specialist at nuclear image reconstruction programming, Keelan Seabolt, a physics teacher at Sandy Creek High, discovered he was missing something: personal satisfaction.
Seabolt says he never thought about teaching as a career even though his mother and sister were successful math teachers. His dream was to become a successful research scientist. While studying physics at Georgia Tech, he got his first taste of teaching.

“I signed up to become a teaching assistant in calculus. I thought to myself that I had always enjoyed math and was able to help clarify abstract concepts to my friends who were enrolled in upper level math courses,” says Seabolt. “Plus, I felt it would be a great addition to my growing resume for graduate school or employment.”

Although his classes were successful and he enjoyed the rush he felt when his students finally understood an abstract concept, he still had his mind set on being a research physicist. He continued his research at the University of Florida when one day it hit him: he needed to interact with others and pass his knowledge on to future generations.

Seabolt moved back to Georgia and secured a sixth grade math teaching position at Bennett’s Mill Middle where he taught for a year before moving to his alma mater, Sandy Creek High.

Seabolt says a successful teacher has to know his subject, but also his students.

“I care for each student and their success in my class. I enjoy helping them improve their belief in themselves and their own ability to learn by showing them that physics isn’t just for students who are good in math or science,” he says.

Seabolt uses a variety of methods to address students’ various learning styles. Along with traditional exams and quizzes, students also draw comics and cartoons about energy, and design plans for effective energy conservation for at home and school.

Seabolt has taught in the Fayette County Public School System for five years.

Shelly Dowse’s road to teaching mirrors Seabolt’s. She loved science in high school, and her teacher, Mrs. JoAnne Reid. She saw how hard Mrs. Reid worked and thought to herself, “Who in their right mind would ever consider this kind of career?”

So off to college she went to major in biological engineering and make lots of money.

“I was going to make artificial body parts. Everyone would think that I was important and smart, and they would know that I made lots of money by the fancy car I drove,” she says.

Ironically, just like Seabolt, she finally realized she was not going to enjoy life as an engineer. Why? She knew she needed to be around people, in her words, “lots and lots of people.”

She changed her major to education and set her sights on becoming a science teacher.

“That’s when I said bye-bye BMW; hello, used car,” she jokes.

But Dowse has never looked back on her decision to teach. She knows she ended up with the career that is perfect for her.

Dowse teaches chemistry at McIntosh High. She knows the subject is difficult and scary to her students, so she does little things to encourage them such a pat on the back, a nudge in the right direction when they are off track, 20 minutes of extra instruction before or after school, or an extra push when they are not pushing themselves.

“Doing these things occur as naturally as blinking or breathing, but these are what students consider special, the qualities that separate the good from the average,” she says.

The tried and true qualities that have proven successful in her classroom are fairness; flexibility; positive, supportive attitude; organized delivery of lessons; and practical application of these lessons to everyday life. And, at the top of the list, building relationships with students.

Dowse says the rewards in teaching are countless. In her mind, it is the little things that are monumental.

“It’s the baby steps my students and I take that lead us to conquering equation problems at the end of the semester, the personal maturity that takes place in their sophomore or junior year, and their growth as a person,” she says. “I like to take a smidgen of credit for that. It’s nice to think that perhaps my endless reminders about using manners or being nice or honest has had an effect on them.”

Dowse has taught for 20 years. She has spent the last four of them at McIntosh.

Aimee Gumerson did not just “play” school growing up; she lived it. Her mother and grandmother opened a Christian preschool in Fayette County and she helped out. As a teenager, she was creating classroom materials and helping teachers with small tasks. But this experience did not steer her to pursue an educational career; instead, she was going to be the next Barbara Walters or Diane Sawyer.
“I wanted to be a world famous reporter,” she says.

That was until her sophomore year at Georgia State University when she realized journalism was not for her.

“Journalists are known for their cynicism. I’m a bit of an optimist, so I preferred a career without that sort of negativity,” she explains.

That is when the idea struck her that perhaps she would like to be a teacher. She changed her studies to middle grades education with a major in language arts and a minor in math. Gumerson is currently a math teacher at Fayette Middle.

Gumerson says she has been surrounded by great teachers all of her life, from working in her family’s preschool through elementary to high school. She is certain it was these experiences that lead her to teach.

“I learned that children deserve to be taught by individuals who genuinely care for and about them. I realized that teaching requires intense dedication and devotion from teachers as well as a passion for sharing a subject they love with students. These factors made the decision to become a teacher the most natural choice,” she says.

Getting students interested in math and wanting to come back for more takes a little persuasion.

Gumerson uses traditional teaching methods sparingly, and incorporates more hands-on learning.

“I like putting students into pairs, small groups, and teams, and having them work together to be fully engaged in whatever content we’re learning. I like to use class games and real-life scenarios to illustrate the concepts to my students and get them involved in their learning,” she adds.

Like most teachers, it is those “aha” moments that Gumerson finds most rewarding.

“I live for the moments when students actually get it and I can see them get the same correct response that I got. When they feel confident enough to show their neighbor what to do, or when they raise their hand confidently to volunteer, those experiences are the very reasons why I enjoy teaching year after year,” she says.

Gumerson has taught for 12 years, all in the Fayette County Public School System. She taught at Whitewater Middle, Fayette County High, and Flat Rock Middle before joining the staff at Fayette Middle.

The 2011 Fayette County Teacher of the Year winner will be announced on April 21, 6 pm, during the annual ceremony at New Hope Baptist Church, North Campus.

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Counselors Host Career Fair in Honor of National School Counseling Week

Over 1,700 eighth graders from the county’s five public middle schools will participate in the largest career fair held within the Fayette County Public School System.

Middle school counselors have organized the seventh annual 8th Grade Career Fair, slated for February 3-4 at Heritage Christian Church, in honor of National School Counseling week February 7-11. This special week honors school counselors for the important role they play in helping students examine their talents, strengths, abilities and interests.

The fair will showcase a diversity of career options for students to consider after high school graduation. By combining their efforts into one centralized fair, the eighth grade counselors are able to expose students to a larger variety of career fields than they would by organizing individual fairs at their schools. Each school was responsible for inviting members from the community to take part.

This year’s National School Counseling Week theme is “School Counselors: Helping Students Reach New Heights.”

Fayette’s school counselors make a positive difference in the lives of students everyday by providing a number of important services including character education, academic advisement, and programs designed to develop personal and social skills. Their affect on the county’s educational program is evidenced by the high academic achievements, awards and honors earned by students throughout the school system.

“We are pleased and thankful for the efforts that our counselors make everyday. They are a vital support to our educational program here in Fayette,” says Barbara Serapion, director of pupil personnel services.

Schools throughout the county will celebrate the week with various activities. Community members are invited to express their appreciation for school counselors February 7-11. Ideas on how to honor counselors can be found on the American School Counselor Association website, The site features several free downloads, including an appreciation certificate.

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